Despite an in-built distrust of anything that sounds too good to be true, a lot of dieters and exercisers fall for the health and fitness equivalent of the get rich scheme – crash diets and ultra-intense workouts. Like most moneymaking cons, crash diets and ultra-intense workouts promise fantastic results but rarely deliver.
Clever advertising, glossy images, scantily clad fitness models, and other marketing tricks mean that these types of product are very appealing. They tap into our desire to get fit and lose weight fast. Forget the fact it’s taken you years to gain weight and get out of shape – for just $39.99, you can regain your youthful figure and fitness in just a few weeks! Sadly, that’s not how your body works.
Why you can’t get fit or lose weight overnight
So why do crash diets and ultra-intense workouts fail to produce the promised results? The main reason is that they are unsustainable. To lose weight, you need to eat less than usual. This forces your body to use stored body fat for fuel. However, if you cut your calories too aggressively, you’ll lose weight initially, but you’ll also trigger things like hunger, cravings, muscle loss, and metabolic slowdown.
In short, your body starts working against you, and when your willpower fails, you'll quit your diet. When you do, you'll give in to all those pent-up cravings and overeat. Just a few days later, you will have regained all the weight you just suffered so hard to lose.
Ultra-intense workouts are similarly unsustainable. Exercising at maximum intensity will trigger fat loss and muscle growth, but it's also excruciating. Often aimed at unfit and beginner exercisers, this is the exact type of training most people should avoid! If you have never even jogged before, would you wake up one morning and run a marathon? Of course not! But that's precisely what this type of workout is asking you to do.
Even if you are very fit, there is no need to train so intensely all the time. Your body needs periods of rest and recovery as well as regular workouts if you are going to maximize your fitness and avoid unwanted injuries. After all, if your workout leaves you hurt and unable to train, you’ll soon lose your hard-won fitness.
The only way to maintain fitness, health, and a healthy weight is to keep on doing whatever you did to get there in the first place. 30 days of super-intense training followed by several months of not doing anything at all is not the solution!
So, what’s the alternative?
If short-term training fixes and crash diets don't work, what should you do instead? The answer is to find types of exercise you enjoy, and that you can stick with not just for a week or a month, but indefinitely. The same is true for your diet. Eat healthily most of the time, but also enjoy some less healthy foods in sensible moderation. It doesn’t have to be hell to be healthy!
What does that look like?
For cardio, grab your Gymboss workout timer and do some moderate-pace intervals. For example, jog for four minutes, walk for two minutes, and repeat five times to total 30 minutes. Do that 3-4 times per week to keep your heart and lungs healthy and ward off unwanted fat and weight gain. As you get fitter, adjust your exercise timer so that your work intervals are a little longer, and your rest interval are a little shorter. This kind of gradual progression is the key to increasing your fitness.
For strength training, pump iron, use resistance bands, or do bodyweight exercises 1-3 times per week. Use your workout timer to make sure you don't rest too long between sets. Focus on compound exercises like squats, lunges, pull-ups/pulldowns, overhead presses, rows, push-ups, and bench presses. These exercises give you the biggest bang for your workout buck.
You should also compliment your cardio and strength training with adequate stretching to maintain or improve your flexibility and keep your joints in good working order. Time your stretches and make sure you hold each one (without bouncing) for 40-60 seconds each. Use your Gymboss workout timer to help you keep track.
Regarding your diet, avoid super-strict diets that ban certain foods or food groups, unless you have an allergy, of course. Food should be more than just fuel; it should be one of life’s pleasures too. If you dread your next meal of steamed chicken and broccoli and are dreaming of potatoes and pasta, how long do you think you’ll be able to stick to your diet? Like sustainable exercise, when it comes to healthy eating, moderation is the key. And remember, you can use your Gymboss exercise timer in the kitchen to make sure that your meals are cooked to perfection!
Forget crash diets and 30-day ultra-intense workout plans – they do not work. Fitness and healthy eating should be lifelong commitments and not short-term infatuations! The next time you start a new diet or workout, try to picture yourself doing it in a year’s time. If you can’t, it’s not the right plan for you, and you should look for something more sustainable.